Intensive Care, a Memoir

(Anvil Press 2002)

Intensive Care CoverOne night in April, after a Sunday soccer game, Alan Twigg couldn’t remember the names of his two sons or his wife—and he couldn’t hold a pen. He lost the ability to speak. After a scan at the Emergency, where he had grand mal seizure in the waiting room, he learned he had a large brain tumour squeezed against the motor cortex. Intensive Care tells the story of why this was a good thing.

On May 26, The Globe & Mail ran a front page story about a medical study that claimed one in five Canadians will have a tumour in their head. Two days later Dr. Christopher Honey removed the tumour from Twigg’s head during a five-hour operation at the Vancouver General Hospital. Twigg started writing again, in the Intensive Care Unit, a few hours later. His right hand still wouldn’t work, so he scribbled awkwardly with his left. Some of his poems in Intensive Care are from that recovery period, reproduced, almost indecipherable, but coherent. But Intensive Care isn’t a medical story; it’s a year-long reflection on how the imminence of death can greatly enhance life.

Confirmation that one is loved can be exhilarating, more powerful than any drug.

– Anvil Press

[Twelve years later, Dr. Honey and Alan Twigg played on the same world champion soccer team at the World Masters Games in Italy. The brain surgeon was the tournament’s top scorer.]